In one month’s time, Lavie Lujah expects to be one of the finalists for the International Independence Foreign Song Competition (IIFSC), which is scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia. Winner of last year’s inaugural contest, he is optimistic about pulling off consecutive victories.
“My chances of [a] repeat victory is fairly good and just to be in the semi-finals is a victory for me. Coming into this year’s competition I told myself that I have nothing to prove and I have nothing to lose,” said Lavie Lujah, who represents Canada.
This year, his entry is Jamaica Rise n Shine. In 2021, he won with Certified Yardie.
Lavie Lujah (real name Laval Wilkinson) won the maiden IIFSC by topping six rivals. This year, there are 12 semi-finalists; the final number will be seven on July 30 when the winner, runner-up, and second runner-up will be announced.
A 20-year resident of Canada, Lavie Lujah is from Kinowl in St Elizabeth. He entered “Foreign Festival” one year after kicking off his recording career with I Can’t Breathe.
He fully supports the concept of a Diaspora festival contest as it gives Jamaicans and people of Jamaican descent an opportunity to participate in one of their country’s most popular musical events.
“It is very important and necessary for us to have a festival/song competition in the Diaspora. As a culture we are known for our music. It’s believed there are as many Jamaicans living in the Diaspora as are living on the island and since the Diaspora cannot participate in the local festival, then that alone is justification,” he said. “When you look at last year’s winning song, Certified Yardie, and the entries for this year, there is no doubt about the quality that exists in the Diaspora.”
A behaviour specialist, Lavie Lujah counts Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, and John Holt among his biggest influences. His favourite festival song winner is Land of my Birth, which won the 1978 contest.